Lewis Hamilton has started two of this year’s three Formula One races from pole position and, after posting the quickest time in Friday’s two practice sessions, he looks positioned to start Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix from the prime spot and break Nico Rosberg’s run of six consecutive grand prix wins.
Some punters may find it ridiculous that bookmakers are favouring Hamilton over Rosberg in their Russian Grand Prix markets when the latter has taken the chequered flag first in each of the last half a dozen races spanning this season and last season. But while not excusing Hamilton’s playboy antics, which are wearing thin on his fans, he has not had any luck in this year’s three races. Hamilton made an awful start to the Australian Grand Prix, losing the lead before the first corner and coming out of it in sixth place before rallying to finish in second position. Hamilton fell from first to ninth during the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix but fought back to get on the podium. And Hamilton started the Chinese Grand Prix from the back of the grid after failing to post a qualifying time. Hamilton steered his Mercedes through the Chinese Grand Prix to take seventh position in what was a remarkable drive from the rear.
It is only a matter of time before Hamilton wins his first race since last season’s United States Grand Prix and one is willing to back him at odds of +125 with Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill to do the business in Russia. The Russian Grand Prix is in its third year in the modern era and Hamilton has won each of the last two editions, leading for all bar six of the 106 laps of the Sochi Autodrom.
Hamilton has demonstrated his liking for the Sochi Autodrom track, Rosberg’s healthy 36-point Formula One championship lead means that he does not have to take any unnecessary risks if he finds himself one place behind his Mercedes teammate in the Russian Grand Prix pecking order and, if everything had gone to plan in each of the first three races, there would be a different title frontrunner.
Sebastian Vettel has pushed Hamilton and Rosberg hardest in the opening three rounds of the Formula One campaign but he experienced problems in Friday’s second Russian Grand Prix practice sessions, problems that may carry over into the qualifying sessions on Saturday. No other driver appears capable of ending the run of Mercedes victories that stands at nine – three for Hamilton and six for Rosberg – and that is the way that the bookmaking fraternity sees it as well.
In terms of Russian Grand Prix exotics, opposing Hamilton and Rosberg in fastest lap markets makes sense. The Russian Grand Prix is particularly tough on fuel consumption so one expects neither Hamilton nor Rosberg to have their pedal to the metal if the race pans out as one forecasts. There is a decent chance that a non-Mercedes driver will register the quickest lap of the Russian Grand Prix, as has been the case in each of its two recent editions – Valtteri Bottas in 2014 and Vettel in 2015.
Vettel is the obvious pick if one wants to bet on only one Russian Grand Prix fastest lap option but dutching the German at odds of +550 with SkyBet and William Hill alongside Kimi Raikkonen (odds of +700 with several bookmakers, including BoyleSports, Coral and Ladbrokes), Daniel Ricciardo (odds of +1800 with Paddy Power and William Hill) and Daniil Kvyat (odds of +2800 with William Hill) produces a four-pronged wager at odds of roughly +173 .
Lewis Hamilton to win the Russian Grand Prix
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Dutch Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Kvyat for Fastest Lap
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